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The Hollywood demolition marks ‘end of an era’

  • The interior of The Hollywood on Brattleboro Road in Bernardston shortly before it was torn down. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Hollywood on Brattleboro Road in Bernardston shortly before it was torn down. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Hollywood building, a former restaurant and bar turned town landmark, was demolished Monday. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

  • The Hollywood building, a former restaurant and bar turned town landmark, was demolished Monday morning. Established more than 50 years ago, the establishment has been closed since 2009. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

  • The Hollywood building, a former restaurant and bar turned town landmark, was demolished Monday. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

  • The Hollywood building, a former restaurant and bar turned town landmark, was demolished Monday. By 8:45 a.m., all that remained was a pile of rubble and the brick chimney stack as Associated Building Wreckers of Springfield used a crane to tear down the walls. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

  • The Hollywood on Brattleboro Road in Bernardston shortly before it was torn down. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/18/2020 1:06:39 PM

BERNARDSTON — The Hollywood building, a former restaurant and bar turned town landmark, was demolished Monday morning.

By 8:45 a.m., all that remained was a pile of rubble and the brick chimney stack as Associated Building Wreckers of Springfield used a crane to tear down the walls. Established more than 50 years ago, the former restaurant and bar has been closed since 2009.

A few cars lined up across the road as residents watched the structure come down.

“It’s the end of an era,” said Bernardston resident Robin Davis as she watched the demolition process.

For a number of Bernardston natives, The Hollywood is home to memories dating back to the 1960s and ’70s. According to Davis and fellow resident John Remillard, the bar was originally owned by Bill Forbes, but it changed hands a couple of times before closing in August of 2009. On Monday, Remillard held an old photograph of the original two-story Hollywood building, which had caught fire and required a rebuild.

Remillard, now in his 60s, said he used to go to the bar after school when he was a teenager, before the legal drinking age was changed to 21. Davis said she grew up right down the road from The Hollywood.

“When I was a kid, I used to sit in this field and we used to watch the people dancing at night and listen to the music,” Davis recalled.

While Davis lived out of town for a while, she came back to Bernardston to live with and care for her mother. Coincidentally, she said The Hollywood permanently closed the day she moved home. At one point, she lived in one of the small, now shuttered apartments located right behind the building. Davis said she even worked at The Hollywood briefly.

“We used to do lots of benefits here,” Davis said. “They had community meals for people who didn’t have any place to go on the holidays.”

As the building came down Monday, part of a mural was visible inside the structure. Davis and Remillard said the mural was done by an artist and regular of The Hollywood, who painted it as a way to pay off the debt of his bar tab.

“It certainly has quite a history to it,” Town Coordinator Louis Bordeaux said of The Hollywood.

The structure that would eventually become The Hollywood is visible in the earliest photographs, dated 1952, from an environmental report Bernardston conducted in 2018. Bordeaux said he has heard from a number of other residents in recent weeks who fondly recalled nights spent at The Hollywood.

“I’ve been shocked by the nostalgia for the place,” Bordeaux said.

During an April Selectboard meeting, Selectboard Chair Robert Raymond said he had heard from a resident who asked about purchasing a sign from The Hollywood building. While Raymond could not permit residents to remove anything from the site, he asked Highway Superintendent Brian Miner to inspect the signs, which were ultimately deemed too difficult to remove.

“Some people just wanted an old memory of The Hollywood,” Raymond said.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.



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